• Rough Agave Flowers as a Potential Feed Resource for Growing Goats

      Mellado, Miguel; Garcia, Jose E.; Pittroff, Wolfgang (Society for Range Management, 2008-11-01)
      The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of different levels of rough agave (Agave scabra Ortega) flowers on dry matter intake (DMI), average daily gain (ADG), volatile fatty acid (VFA) production in the rumen, and particular serum metabolites and minerals of native3dairy growing goats (Capra hircus L.). Forty female goats with an initial weight of 11.1 +/- 1.9 kg (mean 6 SD) were used in a completely randomized design experiment that lasted for 84 d. Goats were fed a completely mixed ration (30% roughage, 70% ground corn [Zea mays L.] and soybean [Glycine max {L.} Merr] meal). Treatments consisted of offering goats (4 pens group-1, 2 goats pen-1) air-dry rough agave flowers, which replaced alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) hay at 0% (control; T0), 25% (T25), 50% (T50), 75% (T75), and 100% (T100) of the of the roughage portion of the diet. Values of nutritional parameters for rough agave flowers were in vitro organic matter digestibility, 493 g kg-1; crude protein, 115 g kg-1; and metabolizable energy, 6.29 MJ kg-1 DMI. There were differences (P < 0.05) in ADG (range, 108-155 g d-1) between diets. Goats fed T0 had higher (P < 0.05) gains than goats fed T50 and T100. DMI was not affected by dietary treatments (range, 3.4% to 3.6% of body weight). Feed conversion ratio (FCR, defined as DMI/ADG) increased (P < 0.05) 27% with total substitution of alfalfa by rough agave flowers, in comparison with T0. Lower (P < 0.05) values of total VFA were obtained with T100, in comparison with all other dietary treatments. These results demonstrated that totally replacing alfalfa with rough agave flowers in diets did not affect DMI but decreased AGD and compromised FCR. Thus, rough agave flowers have the potential to partially replace alfalfa in diets for growing goats.